A Cut of Life (a Lang story)

All lights in the small house are off.  The glow of the television illuminate the small living room, sending shadows flickering into every corner.  Lang sits, watching the black and white screen with an intense gaze of incomprehension.  Occasionally a smile will twist his face, revealing his teeth in a menacing, almost snarl-like fashion.  Blackened by Hutchinson’s disease, his teeth only ass to the demonic appearance of his face.  His body sits perfectly still, save for his hand, its grime encrusted fingernails, cracked and yellowed from chewing, slowly clawing at the arm of his chair.  Occasionally he stops it’s rhythmic motion to brush back strands of the greasy hair which falls into his eyes.

Cans, bags, cigarettes, and old newspapers lie cluttered around Lang’s chair, here and there a banana peel, rotting, swarming with fruit flies.  Alongside the chair lies a dog, its hair sweaty and matted.  Its tags jingle as it licks itself, attempting to  clean some of the dirt caked in its fur.

“Shut up!”  Lang looks down growling, as his arm jerks out, his fist backhanding the dog’s muzzle.  With a yelp it leaps up, scurrying away to hide in a corner.  Reaching over to the coffee table, Lang clicks the top button of the remote, adding another greasy fingerprint to its stained surface.  Standing, and brushing back his hair, Lang looks around the small, dark room.

He walks over to the window, smashing the rim with his palm, slowly forcing it open.  Looking out, he inhales deeply, looking over the scenery below.  The barrel fires, bums huddled over them rubbing their hands briskly to keep the blood running. They look up, seeing steam pour forth from the open window, ninety degree air, stale from the closed space, dispersing rapidly into the night.  One of them calls up to him, shaking his fist.

“You scum suckin’ basta’d!  Why doncha come outta dat appa’tment an’ get a life! Bring out dem girls too ya sick basta’d!”

“Shut the fuck up!”  Lang picks up an empty bottle from the counter, flinging it down upon the ragged people below.  It shatters into pieces on the asphalt, sending the vagrants scattering from the alley.  “Mind your own fucking business!”  Lang slams his fist down on the dirty window frame until it wedges stuck three quarters of the way closed.

He shuffles through the cluttered living room, brushing aside the curtain over his bedroom door and walking in.  Immediately the stench assails him, and a peaceful serenity floods his mind.  Lang smiles deeply as he inhales, baring his rotted teeth, adjusting his eyes to the dim light of the room.  The bedcovers lie rumpled on the bed, the sheets, conspicuous brown stains splashed across them, hang off the edge.  Three bodies lie on the tattered mattress, all female.  Lang smiles again, gazing upon the eviscerated forms.  The long since dried blood, stained in rivulets across their drying skin.  He brushes away a fly from the face of a week dead girl, tenderly caressing her lips, and plants a kiss on her cheek.  He pulls away the last shards of her blouse, carrying them into the bathroom, and switches on the fluorescent light which floods the room with an eerie glow.  With the scraps, Lang wipes away a small circle of dirt from the mirror, studying the bags under his eyes.  Suddenly gagging, he bends over the bathtub, choking up the contents of his stomach upon its filthy, greenish, ceramic floor.  Reaching out for support, has hand smears across the wall, leaving a trail through the growing mold.  Lang looks up, red tinges around his eyes, wet tears streaming down his unshaven face, reaching for the cabinet over the sink.  Opening it, he draws out a straight razor, covered with rust from lack of use and care.  Pressing it to his chest, he pulls it across the skin, and a small trickle of blood begins to run down the blade.  His lips part, and a small laugh escapes them.


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